About

About the Search for Truth blog


clouds - lenticular sunsetThe overall theme of this blog might be something like this:

Ancient belief systems leading to division, strife, and ultimately war and destruction should be abandoned in favor of more accurate, realistic, positive, helpful, universal worldviews that emphasize compassion, acceptance, unity, sustainability, and respect for nature. Truth, reality, science, and common sense should play stronger roles than tradition, ritual, and superstition.

The proper way forward for mankind, especially in our communication and actions toward others, is to abide by basic, universal spiritual principles. Individuals, groups, and nations should not expect others to adopt their own culture-specific or religion-specific traditions, practices, or beliefs; instead, mutual respect should reign.

The spiritual truths that lead to enlightenment — those we strive to understand and practice — cannot be taught by words alone; they must be experienced. Achieving higher levels of spiritual understanding is more experiential than intellectual. Even so, we thoroughly enjoy making attempts to discuss related issues. We genuinely hope that the words in this blog will gently push readers in the right direction and help to open minds, foster deeper understanding, and make meaningful spiritual experiences more likely for all of us.

On this page:

photo: beautiful clouds For as long as I can remember, I have been more concerned with learning the truth than worrying about conformity; I’m not prone to adopting popular views, opinions, or beliefs just to fit in.

I did not get serious about intellectually honest & objective spiritual and religious research until my early 30s, so I spent many years floundering in what one might call religious confusion. Although I’d been raised in Church of Christ-flavored Christian fundamentalism, I knew in my heart that the brand of religious fundamentalism I’d been raised to believe did not conform to truth and reality. For whatever reason, I danced around the issue and avoided the serious quest for related knowledge for many years, as though my concern on the subject, my thirst for the truth on these matters, would eventually fade away, and I’d not have to face it at all!

Well, it did not go away; if anything, my desire to learn the truth only intensified. Until, finally…

hiking Fiery Gizzard trails: Monteagle, TennesseeA series of events and circumstances led to a brand new personal era defined by my taking these subjects seriously enough to engage in an earnest, ongoing study to get closer to truth, weed out falsehoods, and hopefully develop some reasonable conclusions about religious belief and spiritual practice.

I finally had the will and determination to affect a sincere and objective ongoing study. I finally realized how ridiculous and meaningless it would be if I limited myself to research materials that I knew were not really objective. I finally knew that any such study with teeth, with balls – if it was to have any real meaning or value at all – MUST include source material from skeptic, agnostic, Eastern, Western, atheist, fundamentalist, humanist, scholarly, etc. worldviews. In other words…

These issues cannot be resolved from the church library.

hiking Fiery Gizzard trails: Monteagle, TennesseeI finally knew that to conduct this study and ask myself these tough questions solely in the church library would be silly to the Nth degree. I finally knew I had to consult the writings and opinions and beliefs of some of the most intelligent, inspirational, admired, spiritually centered people who have ever lived – not just church folk!

I finally had to know what amazing, intelligent people believed – and far more importantly, WHY they believed it… what LED them to believe it. Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Charles Darwin, Thomas Paine, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, Ayn Rand, Carl Sagan, Galileo, Helen Keller, Tolstoy, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison – NOT to drop my own belief system and adopt theirs, but to implement their conclusions into my study! Why on earth not?

What did Lennon, Hitchcock, Orwell, and Gaines believe? These people had the means to travel the world and discuss religion and spirituality with whomever they wanted. And many of them did just that: launched their own personal, world-wide, globe-trekking spiritual quests! (Now THAT would ROCK!)

What was the spiritual quest of Steve Jobs like? Wouldn’t THAT interest anyone who’s not already damn certain that their own beliefs hold fast and true in the face of science, truth, experience, and reality?

If I may speak frankly… I sincerely hope you have spent some serious time in similar pursuits to decide where to bank your faith. If you’re still involved in the religion from your birth and have never examined anything else, then I hope you are inspired to do so… if not by me, then by something or someone, before it is no longer an option for you.

In retrospect, I would not trade that time and experience for anything!

Nowadays, I deeply embrace these words of Thomas Jefferson:

Thomas Jefferson portraits - black and white
I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.
- Thomas Jefferson in his Letter to Francis Hopkinson dated 13 March 1789

I believe it is becoming increasingly important in this day and age to abandon ancient systems that lead to division, strife, and ultimately war and destruction, in favor of more accurate, realistic, positive, helpful worldviews that embrace compassion and unity. I also believe that remaining silent, staying mum, maintaining a nonchalant appearance of indifference, etc. – things we might do in order to remain “above the fray” – may not be the best course of action.

For example, I’m becoming increasingly concerned about the apparent spread of ultra-conservative religious fundamentalism and dogma spilling into politics from the church. Particularly disturbing are the trends that set nature and science aside in favor of big business and pseudoscience.

For instance, have you heard of a group called Resisting the Green Dragon? This is but one example of a potentially dangerous trend: it’s an organization whose mission is to spread potentially harmful disinformation: that environmentalism is a global danger, a sin – an "affront to Jesus".

These kinds of extremist views are made possible by a handful of human tendencies:

  • Blatant intellectual dishonesty
  • Conformity with peers, or to join a group
  • Ignorance to such a degree, it almost has to be intentional

Think of the most enlightened, genuine spiritual teacher (whether historical or modern) who has earned your respect. Would this spiritual guru support the common practice of abandoning one’s principles when they become an obstacle to wealth, power, or fame?

Why don’t more people carefully, objectively consider…

Why is modern politics such a spiritual desert? Why don’t politically active people who publicly wear their religion on their sleeve actually practice (or even appear to practice) simple universal spiritual principles?

Why do so many conservative fundamentalist Christians in the United States cheer so loudly in support of the death penalty? Does the Bible — or their strict, literal interpretation of the Bible — contain an exemption clause to its exhortation re: treating others as we would like to be treated? Does the Bible say, "Thou shalt not kill, except when…"?

Why are most ultra-conservative Americans more familiar with movies and TV shows than the very book they claim to base their lives upon?

Why do religious fundamentalists believe (or pretend to believe, at least) everything they hear at church, then behave so un-Christ-like at other times?

If the Hard Right people really are honest adherents to "the one true religion," why do they seem so ill-at-ease and full of fear when it comes to alternative worldviews, cultures, or lifestyles? Must they complain so loudly about those who believe differently — criticizing and condemning other religions, countries, etc., as if they themselves were esoterics holding all the right answers?

Why does the Hard Right insist upon forcing its religious views on the rest of us? Are they really so fed up and discontented with this wonderful, pluralist, secular system devised by Thomas Jefferson and our other Founding Fathers? On that note, why do some Far Rightists keep trying to convince other Americans that Thomas Jefferson shared their fundamentalist religious beliefs?

How can Rick Santorum — or anyone else — expect intelligent people to believe his fearmongering — for example, that higher education in the United States is actually being controlled by Satan?

Major points

god post - imageIn writing and publishing this blog, I’m essentially trying to convey the most significant, interesting, and important “findings” of my ongoing study and research of religion and science, spirituality, and related subjects so far.

As would be expected of any genuine pursuit of truth, all of my present views, beliefs, and opinions are subject to change based on the continued application of valid truth detection tools such as reason, logic, science, experience, empirical research/ evidence, and so on. Rigidity, closed-mindedness, and refusal to modify one’s beliefs are hallmarks of untruth and dishonesty and, when present, will not allow any progress to be made in a genuine quest for truth.

I am traveling along a path, so unless I’m going in circles or stuck in the mud, the scenery changes along the way.

Based on the totality of everything I’ve taken in and experienced in my life so far, I believe the following to be true:

  1. The real meaning and intent of Christianity has been lost and corrupted into today’s far-right religious fundamentalism.
  2. All major religions and spiritual paths contain some truths and are in basic agreement about the most important things (compassion, tolerance, acceptance, attainment of inner peace, morality, behavior, attitude, etc.).
  3. Supernatural stories and dogma were never intended to be the central message of religion. The backbone of religions and spiritual paths is how mankind ought to live and how we should treat one another; they attempt to instruct us on how we might attain happiness, compassion, and inner peace – if only we would choose to do so. Take an honest look, and it becomes quite clear: rigid interpretations cause far more division and strife than unity and contentment.
  4. The complete separation of church and state – keeping dogmatic, supernatural, fundamentalist religious beliefs completely out of politics – is the right thing to do. Left-wing, centrist, and right-wing American political groups are all fine, they all have their places – as long as the critical, uniquely American principles of pluralism, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state are fully supported. (There is a vast difference between the religious right vs. the hard right, for example, just as there are substantial differences between liberals, socialists, and communists.)
  5. Science, research, and development must once again become a priority in this country. Leaders who fear, loathe, or otherwise eschew science (whether or not personal religion is a factor) should not be elected.
  6. Partisanship (political fundamentalism) might be reasonable on occasion; however, habitual, hyper-partisanship is in clear conflict with basic spiritual principles. When party politics (“toeing the line”) has a higher priority than common sense and truth, it’s a problem; intellectual honesty about what’s right for our country must trump political affiliation in all decision making. This is a no-brainer, but it requires the ego to be set aside.

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Goals

god post - image

  • To encourage open-mindedness
  • To learn more about viewpoints that may be contra-indicated, or in opposition to existing views and opinions
  • To encourage pluralism and maybe a certain level of syncretism
  • To encourage the appreciation of the present moment, mindfulness, and reflective spiritual practices such as meditation
  • To encourage acceptance, compassion, and other basic, broadly agreed-upon spiritual principles
  • To encourage reasonable skepticism and discourage denialism
  • To search for truth and write about truth as objectively as possible
  • To discourage the acceptance of false information as being real, true, or correct
  • To discourage rigid, divisive, fideistic fundamentalism and related worldviews that accept only their own opinions and beliefs, believing all others to be wrong (or even evil)
  • To discourage political partisanship
  • To promote spiritual unity and oneness
  • To continue on a lifelong path of seeking the truth

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Objectivity

I have described Search for Truth as an honest, objective look at religious fundamentalism and an account of a heartfelt journey of spiritual seeking and discovery; however, given my humanity, pure unadulterated objectivity cannot be achieved. Although claiming full objectivity would be untruthful, I believe it’s fair to say I’m relatively objective (see the list of objectivity factors below).
balance
Thinking men and women are generally aware that the articles featured in newspapers and magazines are stories in that they do not deliver absolute truth; that is, they provide commentary from a particular angle – regardless of the writer’s intended or desired level of objectivity. As the psychology book The Happiness Trap points out so effectively, all human thoughts are merely stories in this sense.

In reality, the process of spiritual or religious truth seeking is virtually worthless unless the seeker possesses a reasonable level of objectivity; that is, if meaningful results are genuinely desired (they aften aren’t).

A friend recently told me that he is so attached to his belief system that he would not care if those religious beliefs turned out to be incorrect, or discordant with reality.

If my heart already clings rigidly to a particular worldview, then it doesn’t make a whole of sense for me to engage in a quest for truth. Enter dogma. Because most of the big questions already have carefully constructed answers in most major fundamentalist belief systems, such a person would have no need or desire to take the necessary plunge; it would be little more than an academic exercise, if not a complete waste of time.

Only with an open heart and an open mind concerning prevailing thought and commonly accepted stories (i.e., the originally held worldview) does an honest spiritual quest become attractive or necessary, and only with an open mind can one begin to draw nearer to the truth. Such a mind is more prepared to engage in deep, critical thought and must be willing to acknowledge the possibility that current beliefs may be wrong: impossible for the closed minded.

While we do our very best to approach the study and research of religion, spirituality, and science with the utmost objectivity, we fail at that (of course). No one is perfectly objective and unbiased, particularly regarding potentially emotional topics like religion and politics.

Factors that make me reasonably objective

I believe the following characteristics and varied life experiences have considerably broadened my perspective and have helped me to achieve a reasonably, comparatively objective viewpoint:

  1. I am not an advocate of any specific system of religious belief as the being the only “right” path.
  2. I am not presently a member of, employed by, or otherwise connected to any group that holds an opinion regarding a specific, fundamentalist religious belief system.
  3. At various times I have held widely divergent views: fundamentalist Christianity, “real” Christianity, Deism, Buddhism, Taoism, secular humanism, pantheism, agnosticism (and even atheism for a short period in my late teens).
  4. I am not a member of any political party; I do not respect habitual partisanship (the stubbornly partisan who toe the party line, come hell or high water). I have supported political candidates from various political parties: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Greens, and Libertarians. My political decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, which is – I believe – the only proper way to go about it.
  5. I associate with people & have friends residing across the religious and political spectrum.

(If there is any outside pressure on this writer – whether in truth or only in mind – then it is probably in favor of a "light version" of Christian fundamentalism, as those are my roots. Ideally, I’d believe that what my parents, school, and church taught me was true and correct; however, such is not what I found to be true…)

From a philosophical perspective, there’s a convincing argument that there is no such thing as objective truth to a human being. Some of the philosophers known to have tackled this issue include Immanuel Kant and others; some are listed in the resources section at the end of the post entitled, When seeking answers, carefully consider the source.
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Respect and compassion

god post - imageI respect those whose beliefs differ significantly from my own, particularly when those beliefs are well thought-out and carefully considered. I admire those who are willing to delve beneath the surface and examine the underlying basis for their religious beliefs, spiritual practices, and political decisions.

Personally, I find it far more challenging to respect the religious beliefs of people who have obviously never conducted a genuine search for themselves; those who automatically accept as truth whatever they are being taught, those who merely “toe the party line,” or those who choose their beliefs for the wrong reasons (e.g., the popularity of the belief system, to gain social acceptance, out of fear, etc.). A standard example of this type might be the lifelong fundamentalist Christian who has never considered anything else and who actually knows far less about the Bible than does the average atheist. (This variety of believer seems to be in abundant supply in Middle Tennessee.)

BOOed in the Bible belt

To say the least, my views are quite unpopular here in the Bible belt. Even so, I avoid the brunt of this negativity by being respectful toward others.

I’ve noticed a tendency for secular writers – especially those who aren’t big fans of religious fundamentalism – to resort to unfriendly, combative, and often downright insulting attitudes toward religious fundamentalist adherents. Given the notorious tendency for religious discussions to become heated and degrade into name-calling and other uncivilized exchange, maintaining an upbeat spirit is not an always an easy task for this subject material. But being passionate about a subject does not require one to engage in hurtful comments toward those who may disagree.

If you’ve ever read certain books that discourage Christian fundamentalist belief systems, you probably know that some of them are downright mean-spirited toward the very people they are trying to convince: not a good practice! For example, in his otherwise excellent book Letter to a Christian Nation, author Sam Harris basically berates fundamentalist Christians throughout. He might as well just call them morons. Surely it is obvious that using such a tone does far more harm than good!

In contrast, I’m making an effort to achieve an overall positive tone and to show compassion for all. I really do aim to practice what I preach.

This blog remains a secret.

Despite the extreme personal importance of this subject material, I have not yet begun to publicize this blog for a couple of reasons (perhaps, more accurately, excuses – as in not wanting to offend certain people close to me, etc.). Even so, I am pleased to have finally started publishing a portion of my writings on these sensitive and controversial subjects.

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to those who have encouraged me to be open and honest about these matters, and to set aside any and all worries about what others might think about these serious, purposeful writings, worldviews, and beliefs.

To each reader: Good luck in your own personal quest for truth!
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Resources

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Truth and happiness

The subject matter of this blog – Search for Truth – relates to sorting out what is true and what isn’t with regard to fundamentalist religion: Christian fundamentalism, in particular. As such, this is more of a quest for the truth than a quest for happiness.

But wait a second. Isn’t the search for truth the same thing, or at least closely related to, the quest for happiness? Well, yes and no.

In a sense, it is important that one understand the difference between the pursuit of truth and the pursuit of happiness. One of the great spiritual questions to ask oneself is this: Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy? The question itself falsely implies the two are mutually exclusive; of course, they don’t have to be. But in everyday communication, relating with others, and life in general, there are times when it is necessary to make a choice between being right and being happy.

If you know anyone who still utters phrases such as, “I told you so,” or “See? I was right again!” then you know conversing with such people can be a real chore. Simply put, one must not ever take things like this personally. (Ideally, one would not take anything personally.)

To a fully enlightened mind there’s not much of a difference, if any, between questing for truth and seeking happiness. However, a fully enlightened person is not likely to be reading this blog; likewise, enlightened beings would not be writing this, either. (Yes, we can admit this – it’s supposed to be a quest for truth, after all.)

An enlightened being might be more concerned with understanding than being understood. The Prayer of St. Francis, my favorite Christian prayer, drives this home. On the other hand, Search for Truth (this blog) seems more concerned about changing others’ minds and being right. The ego has crept into the message of this blog. It can’t really be helped as the writers and contributors to this blog are human beings who, we hope, will seek enlightentment (or heaven, or salvation, or that peace that passes all understanding, or nirvana, or whatever the reader may wish to call it) as long as life and mind allow.

At first, I wanted this blog to be both things: a quest for truth and a path to joy. I am still mulling this over. Perhaps the Search for Truth can be both things after all.

Thanks for reading.
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butterflies enjoying my sweaty bandana(NOTE: The disclaimer has been moved to a separate page; this page is FAR too long already…)

WARNING: Knowledge about spiritual and religious matters is not a substitute for genuine spiritual practice. Action is required in order to proceed along the path.

Everything is “spiritual”; there is no such thing as a distinct line separating the spiritual from the non-spiritual.

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Please help spread the message any way you can:

  1. Fundamentalism — whether religious or political — is one of the true, major, current scourges on the planet; nothing good can come from it.
  2. The way forward for all mankind is to embrace basic universal spiritual principles in all affairs.
  3. Individuals, groups, and nations should not expect others to adopt their own culture-specific or religion-specific traditions, practices, or beliefs; instead, mutual respect should reign.

Media, culture, modern trends: Dive at your own risk

There’s a reason this item is listed last…

Current religio-political trends in the media and Western culture somehow manage to be superficial and critical at the same time. This broad subject area is composed largely of hot air, and as such, can be rather maddening. Delving into the current media detritus on a daily basis can fan the emotional flames — and if there are none, then it will almost certainly generate a few sparks for the bone-dry kindling. This is especially true during election season — a period of time that seems to be rapidly losing its distinction from non-election season.

In the United States we are facing several Hard Right religio-political pollutants, including:

Fundamentalist Christian dominionism
American exceptionalism

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Bill Gates, one of the most generous men alive; George Soros, Warren Buffet… would not touch religious fundamentalism with a ten-foot pole.

28 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Nashville’s Belmont University Now Welcomes Gays | Another Day, Another Digression

  2. Jon

    I would like to thank you for creating this blog. The conscious decision to continually seek, requires one to judge less, and the world is a better place for it. Imagine a truth so all encompassing that judgment is not required. Physics would use the term infinite to describe such a possibility, mystics would use the term God, both would be right and the world a better place for it, but sadly, religion would call such a truth heresy and reject it outright. Religions are not built around seeking truth, they only exist as a result of man’s judgment of truth. If there is a singular truth and that truth is God, then religion looks nothing like her/him, because all religions require me (human) to be the judge of truth (God). If there is one God, one ultimate truth, then I (human) could never be the judge of him/her/it, and only in seeking (and not judging) will I ever find true life. Thank you and keep seeking.

    Reply
    1. samana

      THANKS, Jon!

      You are the very first person (apart from a friend of mine in Atlanta I practically forced onto the site) to make a comment on this blog, and I am deeply grateful you visited – and better yet, that you thought well enough of it to use your valuable time adding a comment.

      Having been raised in a fundamentalist Christian environment and later rejecting any near-literal interpretations after a period of deep and lengthy reflection, this subject is rather bittersweet for me. I’ve spent more time studying and researching these things than most people would believe. I was shocked to learn many things that had not been uttered, much less taught, at the Church of Christ schools and congregations I attended from first grade all the way through college.

      I was overjoyed to have finally “seen the light” and to rid myself of what might be called religious confusion; however, it also saddens me to see that such a large portion of the population remains under the spell of fundamentalist religion. It bewilders me how few seem willing to explore the difficult questions, or even ask them in the first place. It concerns me that the more conservative, far-right sects appear to be hijacking Christianity and even bringing their fundamentalism into politics, which is already plenty polluted.

      I would love to know exactly how you found this blog; for instance, whether you arrived via Google, and if so, what search terms you used and how we ranked, etc.

      As this blog is quite new, it is still very small. I have big plans for it, though. I have not publicized Search for Truth yet for several reasons, but no good ones. They’re excuses, really, based mainly on my fear of offending a great many people.

      I make every effort not to be negative, but this is virtually impossible given my passion on the subject, the strength of my feelings about the issues at hand, etc. As this blog grows I hope the central nugget of wisdom eventually becomes apparent to the readers: universal spiritual principles are at the root of all well-intentioned and/or genuine religions, but one must have “special eyes” to see them shining through all the accretions, add-ons, and garbage (comprised primarily of dogma, tradition, fear, and closed-mindedness).

      I have no idea how I’m going to spread this message to the desired target audience: Christian fundamentalists who are intelligent and who may be doubters on more than the typical level, whether openly or in secret.

      Thanks again!

      Reply
  3. twitch

    I have a lot of spiritual “what if” questions that I would love to post, not to promote any particular view or faith, but honest questions that I would absolutely love to get feedback on. Is this the best place to post them, or should I post them somewhere else (I don’t know much about blogs)?
    I think the “what if” question is a pretty good way of stating an idea that one may have, maybe springing out of her/his individual background, but which hasn’t really taken shape. It seems to be a good way to share those ideas in a way that is non-judgmental, and still be able to get feedback to see if there is any merit to it or what others have found to be true for them. Thanks for considering.

    Reply
    1. samana

      I would be very interested in learning of your what-if questions.

      It would be silly of me to assert that this is the “best” place to post your questions, but it might be fair to say that you’d have trouble finding someone more interested in examining them! I look forward to hearing them.

      Feel free to email any material of a more private nature, if there is something you would not necessarily want posted on a public blog.

      Have a great Friday!

      Reply
      1. Jill Tilghman

        Hi Samana, Can u please erase and cancel my comment. I have been trying to reply from my mobile. It keeps repeating words and inserting double words and comments on top of each other and then for some reason, in the middle of me trying to correct my keyboard mistakes it automatically goes through as comment before I even finish or push the comment button. Sorry about the completely confusing comment that accidentally went through. Can you please email me at dgilgal7@aol.com. If you have any problems getting through Josh can help. Thanks. My main computer is down. JILL

        Reply
  4. twitch

    What if everything we are able to perceive with our senses, everything we can think with our minds and every single circumstance that occurs is ALL GOD?
    If there is one God from which everything has its existence, then it would mean there is one and only one truth.
    As human beings we shy away from the idea of one truth because all manner of evil has been done to others by two opposing beliefs of truth.
    But what if there was one truth that was able to contain EVERYTHING?
    If that truth were defined as infinite good, then and only then could there be one truth able to contain everything. In both the Bible and the Koran, God describes Himself as infinite good and truth. If this were so, it would mean that any goodness is true and any bad or evil is a deception (not that we don’t actually experience badness, but that in the big scheme of things, even badness and evil are subject to being used by the infinite good truth).

    Just wanting to start a conversation, I am not intending to offend, if we cannot be curious after all, what is the point of living?

    Reply
    1. samana

      Well said, Jon. One popular, semi-secular recovery book suggests that either God is everything or God is nothing.

      That is, if there is a supreme force, a Source of All Things (and who are we to deny such a thing; atheism seems to require a leap of faith equal to or perhaps even greater than fundamentalism itself!), then we cannot separate All That Is into two piles, saying, “Everything in Pile A is God, or comes from Source, and everything in Pile B is not God, or does not come from this Source.” Instead, we have unity and oneness – a principle taught, or at least implied, by many paths and traditions.

      This also serves as a nice argument against an overwhelming force of evil, if you will. Certainly, one of the fatal flaws of strict, fundamentalist worldviews is the supposed existence of a Satan character. If such a powerhouse of evil actually existed, it would necessarily indicate a Source that’s either not omnipotent or not omniscient – allowing a tragic and unimaginable quantity of human suffering.

      There are quite a few wonderful quotes that relate to this idea; here are a few of my favorites:

      A poor devotee points to the sky and says, “God is up there.” An average devotee says, “God dwells in the heart as an inner master.” The best devotee says, “God alone IS, and everything I perceive is a form of God.” (Ramakrishna, mystic of 19th-century India)

      It is better to see God in everything than to try and figure it out. (Neem Karoli Baba, Hindu guru)

      Three men went into the jungle on different occasions and saw a chameleon. “A chameleon is red,” said the first man. “No, a chameleon is green,” said the second man. “Nonsense, a chameleon is brown,” said the third man. Those who disagree about the nature of God are like these three men. (a Hindu teaching story)

      God is everywhere. Therefore, God is nowhere in particular, because to be somewhere in particular, God would have to NOT be somewhere else – which is not possible for God. (Neale Donald Walsch – Conversations with God, Book One)

      Reply
      1. JT

        Hi Samana, How are you? Hello to Jon and Twitch also. Just a few quick remarks and thoughts. First, I thank my Son, Joshua Tilghman , another writer and website author for sharing this great blog with me. It has been a great joy to read the authors articles…a privilege to converse with Samana one of todays great writers and thinkers. I have also enjoyed reading Twitches, and Jons comments and contributions. I have also read and discussed Ramakrishna and his past life experiences with my son Josh. I also loved “A confession and other religious writings” by Leo Tolstoy.

        Reply
  5. twitch

    It is amazing how much is contained within those honest and simple statements! What freedom to just be.

    Out of simple curiosity I have been studying the Bible to see if God protrays himself within those pages as this all complete source able to bring everyone and everything into complete goodness and peace. I have found it very amazing to start studying it again for myself, many years after all the titles and labels and doctrines I was once taught have been forgotten.
    If there is truth within those pages, I want to know what it is and more to the point, I want to see more clearly the deceptions that were taught to me from this book. I have been taking my standard ‘what if’ approach and reading with the eyes of ‘what if there is more truth here than I was taught?’

    It is the same question that I ask of anything I read, with the Bible it happens to be so much more personal as I was not actually taught the Bible as much as a particular world view supposedly gleaned from the Bible. It is also very interesting since the written records in the Bible seem to point to a supreme being attempting to describe himself to the creation he claims to have made.
    Again, I am not promoting the Bible, it is just what I am fixated on at the moment, and I am having a grand time looking for how God “describes himself” if you will, and comparing that to what I was once taught, and what I know to be true from my own experience.

    A mystic friend of mine recommended the book ‘The Gospel in Brief’ by Leo Tolstoy, he (Tolstoy) had many of the same questions we do today (described in detail in his book ‘A Confession and Other Religious Writings’). Reading that little book really opened my eyes to just how much inferred meaning the early church leaders etc actually translated into the texts we call the Gospels today. I’m not saying Tolstoy was spot on, not even he claims that, but it is fascinating to read a narrative of Jesus teaching with the religous stuff stripped out of it. I think we would all agree with the statement Jesus made as Tolstoy translated it, “The truth is already within all of you.”

    Reply
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  8. JT

    I would like to thank you for your wonderful articles and site. I devoured everything that you have written with great joy and a silent whisper to my self “Alright! Finally.”I grew up all my life in a baptist, fundamental church where the whole family went to Sunday school, followed by church then back to church Sunday evening and again Wednesday nights for bible study. I also attended Christian schools . Out of five children I was the only one that refused to get baptized or take communion. At age 20 when I was out of the house I stopped going to church completely but still held on to some of my upbringing beliefs and of course considered myself a conservative republican….until at age 41 I experienced a terrible loss. I lost my husband, home, finances, credit, health relationships and my mind for awhile…it was at the time that I experienced what the “The Christians” called a born again experince. I call it enlightenment, self awareness…

    Reply
    1. samana

      Hello Jill,
      I am very pleased and even excited to read your comments! It seems we have very similar upbringings — and that you had more courage than I to openly resist. It took me a very long time before I became not only willing but 100% determined to dive into research and stay there until I could make a heartfelt decision regarding Christian fundamentalism. I would not trade that time and study for anything!

      The results were so moving that my number one mission for about a decade now has been to share what I learned… but even then, I did not want to offend those close to me so I kept most of my writings to myself. Eventually I felt like I would explode if I did not publicly share some of these things, and that’s when this blog — Search for Truth — was born.

      More later – gotta run… Have a great weekend!
      S

      Reply
  9. JT

    Continued…self discovery and a total rebirth or renewing of my mind and truth. I went into basic solitude studing most of the major world religions and then focused my concentration on the reading of the biblical scriptures and the study of the many different Christian denominations while interviewing/ questioning so-called evangelical fundamentalists about some of the foundational scriptures they often quote…

    Reply
    1. samana

      As a prolific writer and blogger, I truly enjoy long comments, emails, responses, etc. Please feel free to be as verbose as you wish. The more words there are on this site — blog posts and comments alike — the more people will find this blog — and a (very) few of them will be positively influenced.

      Please, keep on reading, researching, and responding — the more, the better!

      Thanks again,
      S

      Reply
    2. samana

      NOTE: I attempted to send this as an email but it did not go through…

      Hello Jill,
      How is your Sunday? Great, I hope!

      To be honest, I am still giddy about your positive comments concerning religion and spirituality — and I’m very grateful you took the time to comment as you did. Comments are rare, but good comments are even rarer.

      Since I spend most of my time working on this project and it does not produce any income, it is easy to get discouraged or burned out every now and then. Thankfully, highly positive comments such as yours really do help keep me going! That sort of passionate, kind agreement and encouragement REALLY does help put some wind in my sails so I truly appreciate them.

      NOTE: Please excuse the volume and verbosity of my emails; I am truly an obsessive, compulsive, passionate writer, and once I get going it can be difficult to bring it to a close!!

      Spreading the message with social bookmarking sites
      If you would like to help spread this message, I have a suggestion. If you don’t already have free accounts at social bookmarking web sites like Stumbleupon, Digg, or Reddit, it would be incredibly beneficial if you were to have an account and then suggest one of the better or more meaningful blog posts at Search for Truth.

      StumbleUpon, Digg, and Reddit are the top three (3) social bookmarking sites: Sites that list web pages people find to be interesting or useful to others.

      (Please see the list of resources at the end of this email…)

      A summary of the overall “message” I’m referring to can be found on these pages; if you are in substantial agreement — no matter who or where you are — please help support this message!

      Writing books
      It is fantastic that you are writing a book to help promote critical thinking when it comes to religious views and beliefs. I have three (3) partially written books on related subjects, myself!! I have never tried to find a publisher. One of them really has potential; the other two need a lot of work.

      If you would like me to serve as an editor, critic, reviewer, or even contributor, then I would be more than happy to. We can talk about it. I am not kidding when I say that my primary purpose in life is to spread this message. You probably feel very similarly; after all, it is a major life event to finally “see the light” while most everyone else is still in the dark. It is downright sad, even maddening at times.

      Spiritual principles list: SEO goal
      One of my SEO goals for the Search for Truth blog is for the spiritual principles page to rank at #1 on Google and other search engines for the search terms “spiritual principles” and related searches. It is doing very well, moving ever higher and higher. Although the spiritual principles page ranks very highly when people search for “basic universal spiritual principles” it is not yet #1 for just “spiritual principles.” (The more generic a search is, the harder it is to rank at the top!)

      The truth about SEO & web marketing
      The truth about SEO is that there are loads of con artists and fly-by night companies and individuals who charge huge monthly amounts ($500 to over $1K per month) for their services. The client receives more useless statistics than good quality work. No matter what people may say, CONTENT is KING and it always will be. The ONLY trusted method of getting a site to rank higher in Google search results is to add unique, high-quality fresh content on a regular basis. Please be very careful whom to trust when it comes to anything SEO-related. You should not pay for these kinds of services (SEO, web marketing, internet marketing, etc.) until a company has proven itself beyond a doubt.

      Hard Right messages
      Although I do not hate any people, I may very well be guilty of hating the falsehoods being spread by groups on what I call the Hard Right. The right side of the “Religious Right” (if not most of them) enjoy spreading their messages of hate; they are anything but spiritually principled. And abiding by basic, universal spiritual principles is what life should be about! Therefore, it is my goal to encourage basic, universal spiritual principles – but also to DISCOURAGE Hard Right thinking. In fact, once one contemplates it sufficiently, I believe one will see the real “evil” to be fundamentalism itself. Fundamentalism of all kinds — whether political, religious, or other – is not compatible with tolerance, universal compassion, or peace!!

      Web sites, blogs, SEO
      I am a self-employed web professional who specializes in content-based methods of SEO (search engine optimization); in other words, I know how to create and/or add content to web sites and blogs that will cause Google and other major search engines to rank the sites higher and higher. However, I have practically quit working to do all this writing and blogging. I guess my point is, if you ever decide to create a web site or blog, I can help you get that done at a either a ridiculously low cost, or even free if you decide to build it yourself. (My rates are so low, I practically give my work away…)

      OK, I better quit writing!! Have a great Sunday, and thanks again!
      Samana

      P.S. Please add your favorite Search for Truth blog posts to social bookmarking sites!! If you will help with this, please spread it out over days and weeks rather than adding more than two links at one sitting; this will have a better effect. Thanks.

      Resources: Social bookmarking sites 2012

      Top 15 Most Popular Social Bookmarking Websites (June 2012) – eBiz MBA
      http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-bookmarking-websites
      101 Top Social Bookmarking Sites List 2012 – Blue Search Marketing
      http://bluesearchmarketing.com/social-bookmarking-sites-list/
      Social Bookmarking Sites List – SEO ABCs
      http://seoabc.in/resources/social-bookmarking-sites-list

      Resources: Top Social bookmarking sites – June 2012
      StumbleUpon
      http://www.stumbleupon.com/
      Digg
      http://digg.com/
      Reddit
      http://www.reddit.com/
      Slashdot
      http://slashdot.org/
      Delicious
      http://www.delicious.com/
      Fark
      http://www.fark.com/

      Reply
      1. JT

        Hi Samana, thank you for your comments and again your great articles that are very time consuming for you but I am sure they reap a great reward for both you and all your readers. Forgive me for taking so long to get back with you. I usually only go on line once a week. Thank you for your kind comments. I am a member of stumble, reddit, and digs and am going right now to submit your site/articles. It would me nice to stay in touch by email. I don’t want know why you could not get through. Can u try again and if you are unable to then I will contact Aol. Thank you. Have a great week.

        Reply
  10. JT

    Continued…forgive me for being so long winded and mis-spelled words as I am having trouble with keyboard…anyway, I asked the people and pastors their interpretation of these certain pasages and why they believed what they did. I was shocked by the answers I did get and even more shocked and the silence that I got from the pastors as I could only conclude they never pondered them or worse didn’t even know they were scriptures taken and quoted directly from the new testament. To try to make this brief

    Reply
  11. JT

    QIContinued..and will close…to make this long story of my search for truth short…..everything that I once held true, and belived was just and fair went out the window and I believed the opposite and outraged (not angry) I started a book that I titled to the evangelical, fundamental church “So, you want war?”Which I am still working on today…I am disgusted with the right and the evangelical fundamentalists that buy these rightare wing politicians their electionthem into power , hypocritically going directly against theinstructions of the new testament scriptures that they claim to follow that state war, power, involving themselves in politics is forbidden( 2 Timothy

    Reply
  12. JT

    So sorry…finishing last comment……post comment went through without me pressing send….2 Timothy 2:4 concerning politics which as u correctly stated is compqletely corrupt and James 4:1,2 condems war as well as 100 other versus. JESUS WAS/is called the Prince of Peace throughout all scripture and summed up his entire message with this one scripture “The There is only one true and undefiled religion (on earth) and that is to take care of the orphans, widows, and poor”. James 1:27 exact word meaning in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. We are to take care of the earth and animals (the right hate animal lovers and are against all humane treatment of them and any living thing). The USA IS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN THE NUMBER ONE PREDATOR IN THE WORLD…POLICING THE WORLD…HAVE LOTS MORE TO SAY AND COMMENT ON BUT HAVE ALREADY USED TOO MUCH SPACE. THANK YOU.

    Reply
  13. JT

    For all the Fundamentalist, Isn’t this verse crystal clear Galations 4:22-26 directly quoted from the New King James Bible. “For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bond woman, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, WHICH THINGS ARE SYMBOLIC. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gave birth to bondage which is

    Reply
  14. JT

    Verse continued ….which Is Hagar Is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—–but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us All”. The original story from the old testament story which was just a lesson..not literal can be found in Genesis 21:8-21
    .

    Reply
  15. JT

    I am going to go back to each article and stumble now…Dig and reddit might take some time as they are difficult but wanted you to know that I will share your site with other friends that are also searching for truth and rethinking their long held believes as well as those interested in all the other great subjects of great value that you have written about..I appreciate each one and look forward to each new post. Jill

    Reply
  16. J

    You shouldn’t have asked…my true opinion is that you, whomever you are, creator of this pretentious site, are a pretentious obnoxious ass: “holier than thou,” simplistic fool(s) throwing intellectual caution to the wind in a rabid flight from whatever you are calling “religious fundamentalism.” Here’s a clue: define your terms…and stop lumping shit together so that your pretentious presumptive opinions make no sense to anyone with rational thought. wretched, absolutely wretched. (no, I am not of any religious nor philosophical ilk; a professor and researcher; here by unhappy accident, sent mistakenly by a friend)

    Reply
    1. samana

      It would be interesting and even helpful to learn exactly which content was found to be so offensive or off-putting.

      We repeatedly state that we do NOT have the answers… that we could be as wrong as anyone. We stress practicality over superstition. After all, NO ONE knows what rests behind the curtain of reality!

      I suspect your disapproval probably relates to differing perspectives and backgrounds. We’ve certainly found that much of this material makes little or no sense EXCEPT to those readers who have experienced fideistic religious fundamentalism firsthand.

      To outsiders — i.e., those who cannot possibly know what it can be like to be raised in fundamentalist churches (and thus told how you must think and exactly what you must believe), our efforts may seem like a massive waste of time! We totally get that.

      Definitions of fundamentalism and fideism — two of our major beefs — are repeated many times on this Search for Truth blog; however, such terms are not necessarily described in detail on every page on which they’re mentioned. Here’s what we mean by them:

      • Fundamentalism: OUR religion is the only true or right religion; everyone else is wrong; the only proper way to interpret scripture is literally
      • Fideism: LOGIC, science, rational thought, and other things which disagree with our scripture are enemies of true faith

      I do realize we badly need a central FAQ-type document that lays out all the caveats and definitions in one, easy-to-find location. Thanks for reminding us of this need.

      On the other hand, we never expected to win any popularity contests with such locally controversial material!

      Have a great week.

      Reply
      1. Chareth

        Months ago, we [at one of SfT's primary partner blogs] received an extremely negative comment similar to the one above. You apparently exercised control in your response.

        The commenter’s own words make him appear ignorant and prideful, so don’t give such negativity another thought.

        However, let me know if J responds with specifics about what offended him so badly; I’d be curious.

        Reply
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